When I arrive back in Thailand next week, I will have completed my 20th flight this year. Can you believe it? 20 flights, in ten and a half months, and to think: I’m only part of one frequent flyer programme! With this in mind, I like to think that I have learned, through trial and error, what I consider an essential guide for ensuring that my journey involves an efficient, relaxing, and comfortable flight. As you’re all absolute gems, I am going to share with you my top five tips for the ultimate flight.
We’ve all been there, staring at ourselves in the harsh fluorescent lighting of the bathroom at 37,000 feet, contorting our faces to watch our skin slowly crack in front of our very eyes, along with our self-confidence. I’m really lucky, as I have very sensitive skin (ginger genes), so I also get incredibly itchy arms, legs and belly when flying. That air conditioning reaps absolute havoc on our skin cells, so it’s no wonder that they decide to make a mass exodus from our body. So, start moisturizing your whole body 24 hours before your flight, and repeat this every few hours. This will help lock in the essential oils that your skin needs. In addition to this, I always make sure that I have my face moisturizer with me on the flight (under 100ml, of course), and I use the ‘refreshing wipes’ to cleanse my face before reapplying the moisturiser. If you’re flying using a slightly more luxurious airline, you might be fortunate enough to find that they supply body lotion in the bathroom, in which case, jump on that shit and keep your skin baby soft for a comfortable flight.
Now, you might think that this goes without saying. Again, if you’re like me, that nasty air conditioning dries out your throat and nose like the Arabian Desert in August. Pretty much all airlines provide passengers with water, but in busy times, or on night flights, service can sometimes leave a lot to be desired. For those of you who don’t know, you cannot take liquids over 100ml through airport security, however, you can take water bottles. Many airports realise the potential disasterous effects of a collection of dehydrated passengers, so have water fountains in departures that you can drink from, or fill up your bottle from. You can then take this onto the plane, and not have to experience the fear of your throat sealing up. Ta dah, no more choking as your throat seals itself together to disrupt your comfortable flight.
3. Choose your seat wisely.
The age-old debate: aisle or window? Well, I have a theory that has yet to prove me wrong. It all boils down to the time and duration of your flight. I have found that for short, domestic flights it doesn’t really matter, although it is worth remembering that if your domestic leg is the beginning of a long haul, international flight (and you haven’t reserved your seats online), they may ask you at the check in desk which you would seat choice you would prefer, so plan ahead for a comfortable journey. Personally, I go with the idea that if it is a daytime flight, then I take the aisle. This usually means that I will be awake, and therefore drinking more water/eating more food, and also more partial to butt cramp. Therefore, the aisle seat gives me perfect access for occasional walks (again, essential), and also means that I wont have to bother a random, or climb over them, when I inevitably need to pee. However, if it is a night flight, I go for the window. The wall of the plane provides a surface to rest your weary head, and you won’t have to be woken every time your neighbour needs the toilet, making it a much more undisturbed and comfortable flight. In addition to this, the last few times that I have flown, the other seats on my row have been empty. – hurrah! I think that this is partly due to the fact that when other passengers are choosing their seats, they are less likely to go for the row that is already in use. Extra seats means more space for laying down, which leads nicely onto my next point.
4. Try to sleep.
I know, I know, it’s exceptionally hard to think about sleep when you are presented with an in-flight entertainment system that seems to offer all of the films from the last four years that you never got around to seeing. However, I think that we can all agree that jet lag is the mother of all bitches. If I am on a night flight, I don’t even let myself look at the movie options until I have slept. I also plan ahead, and as soon as I begin my journey, I also begin to operate in the time zone of my destination country. This means that I effectively ‘nip it in the bud’, and maximize my non-drowsy time. This might mean sleeping whilst it is still light outside, so dress appropriately in your comfiest clothes, and have a spare item such as a scarf to drape over your eyes. Of course, if you have chosen your seat well, you might be able to lay down and make a mini bed. See? Snug as a bug in a rug.
5. Keep it simple, keep it safe.
My final tip is something that I have cracked in my last few flights. Until recently, to minimise the weight in my hold luggage, I would take a trekking backpack as my hand luggage. I’d fill it with my camera, some clothes, and then all of the things that I thought I might need during my journey. The bag would go up into the overhead lockers, and I would basically ignore it for the entirety of my journey, mainly due to the fact that nine times out of ten, I cannot reach the overhead lockers. Once landed, I would have to struggle to get it down, probably smack a few people in the face in the process, and would then get progressively hotter whilst waiting in the immigration queue. This was a terrible idea, and definitely did not make for a relaxing flight. Now, I take a small tote bag or handbag, which I can slip under the seat in front of me, bypassing the overhead lockers all together. I only carry the essentials (book, moisturiser, laptop), and it speeds up my alighting process, and keeps me generally less flustered.
So there you have it. By following these guidelines, I hope that your journey, wherever your destination, involves a truly comfortable flight. Don’t forget, you’re flying through the air. This should probably be one of the most exciting parts of our adventures, don’t let a cheap airline or uncomfortable seat ruin it for you! Let me know what you think in the comments below, perhaps you have some tips that you can share with me?